Archery is a sport that, when done correctly, draws heavily on core strength and the ability to repeat motion consistently. The best archers are fit on both sides of their body versus just the side the draws back the bowstring.
So it’s important to have a well-balanced workout that incorporates:
- Strength training
Resist the impulse to “pump iron,” and check out the tips below instead.
Stretch, stretch… and stretch some more.
In archery, stretching is key, because you’re essentially lifting and pulling weights to draw the bow. Drawing back even a 20-pound bow on cold muscles is asking for an injury, or soreness at the very least. Start by purchasing a stretch band – otherwise known as stretch tubing or therapy bands – at your local archery shop or medical supply store.
Use a lightweight band with little resistance; tie it off at your approximate draw length, and use it to practice your shot. For bonus points “shoot” with your stretch band in front of a mirror. It helps you to stretch your muscles and cement your archery technique. Do you want to stretch with your bow and your stretch band? Check out these exercises, called Specific Physical Training, by U.S. National Head Coach KiSik Lee.
You’re all heart.
Just because archery is a relatively stationary sport doesn’t mean cardio isn’t necessary. The truth is, archers with a lower resting heart rate perform best in competition. Even if you’re a backyard archer or are participating strictly in local tournaments, you’re likely to feel the thrill and excitement of wanting to hit the middle of your target.
Whether you’re training for a family meet in the backyard, or to win the state championship title, cardio is a must for managing nerves and helping you to feel stronger when less fit archers begin to fatigue. Thirty minutes of cardio – walking, jogging, swimming or aerobics – four to five days per week, will help bring your heart rate down when the pressure is on.
At the core of every great archer…
Is a group of strong core muscles. If you’re going to shoot a bow, you have to be flexible and strong in the big muscles that should be doing all of the work: your lower trapezius, for example, does the heavy lifting when drawing the bow; your abdominals and lattisimus dorsi work to keep you stable and ensure low, relaxed shoulders when raising the bow. How can you work those core muscles?
First, consider getting a stability ball. Not only does it help provide a great workout, but makes exercise time a bit more fun and challenging. Another great tool for core strength – which also promotes stability – is an archery set from Flexor, a USA Archery sponsor. Flexor’s kit comes with a ball, balance discs, a foam stick, and a subscription to their workout program, designed specifically for archers.
Need additional motivation?
USA Archery, the National Governing Body for the sport, credits cardio, strength training and stretching with helping archers handle pressure on the field and off, giving them additional stability in the wind, and making them all-around better athletes.